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on the broadcast tonight, blown away. wild winds out west. the worst in a decade. trees down, power out, flights diverted. and this same weather system is on the move and having an impact far and wide. is it payback time for big banks with millions of americans losing their homes to foreclosure. a major new lawsuit against the banks that loaned them money. hold the phone. is your smartphone spying on you? every call you make, every keystroke? the phone software 140 million of us don't even know we have and why we now can't get rid of it. and a girl's best friend. the jewelry of elizabeth taylor going on the auction block. and if they could talk every carat would tell a story. and if they could talk every carat would tell a story. "nightly news" begins now.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. it is one of the most unusual things nature does on this planet and it's going on right now across a vast area out west. the weather in this country, with few exceptions, travels from west to east. that's why it takes longer to fly new york to l.a. than l.a. to new york. but what's happening tonight is one of those exceptions and one of those rare weather events. the winds are blowing over land from east to west, and in some cases, they have reached 140 miles per hour over land. these are the santa ana winds and then some. a strong, intense, severe system we haven't seen the likes of since the 1990s. it's causing big problems, risking lives and it's on the move.
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we begin tonight with miguel almaguer in pasadena. good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. these are some of the most powerful winds to hit this area. the city of pasadena took a beating. folks that live here are told to stay home if their home isn't damaged. this wind-driven event isn't over yet. the notorious santa ana winds took down hundreds of trees and toppled power poles. in los angeles, downed electrical lines sparked brush fires and fear even a small blaze could fuel a massive wind-driven fire. first responders dispatched to a new call every 12 seconds. >> we were losing shingles off the roof. rain gutter came flying off. it was nuts. >> reporter: in pasadena, the city declared an emergency.
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schools were closed and roads and freeways were backed up for miles. across california, an estimated 340,000 lost power. even lax was temporarily in the dark. 23 planes rerouted due to powerful winds. look at that. look at the sparks there. wow! >> one forecaster called the conditions hellacious. >> it was horrible. >> reporter: the damages in the millions. the cleanup will take days. >> we're here taking pictures and showing the kids because i don't know that they're going to see it again. >> reporter: it was just in bad in utah where hurricane-force winds toppled big rigs and forced the closure of i-15. in farmington, nearly every home reported damage. >> i had some of my christmas displays up but frosty the snowman is bobbing out in the great salt lake next to the brine. >> reporter: the forecast calls for this storm to pack a
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powerful punch into the weekend. from blizzard conditions in colorado, to rare snow in the nevada desert. the national weather service has issued a high wind warning for six western states. they say the damage tonight could be as bad as it was in the last 24 hours. brian? >> miguel almaguer starting us off from pasadena. that's also where weather channel meteorologist jim cantore is tonight. did i have it about right at the top of the broadcast saying this is one of the more unusual things weather does anywhere on the planet? >> reporter: absolutely. it's going to do it again tonight, unfortunately, brian. what we're going to see is more of a typical santa ana. in other words, winds will have more of an easterly component. and come down through the simi valley and san fernando valley. last night what made this so unusual here and what caused what looks like as you and i have both been in, hurricane or tornado damage, we had a northerly component in that wind. even still, 80- to 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts. just incredible.
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tonight they may be a hair tamer. but areas that didn't get it last night could very well get it tonight. once again, unusually cold and breezy conditions expected tonight right through the weekend. >> just thankful it isn't the height of fire season. jim cantore in pasadena. jim, thanks. now to the foreclosure crisis. the attorney general of the commonwealth of massachusetts announced today she is suing five of this nation's largest banks, accusing them of unlawful, deceptive practices that have harmed borrowers and led to people being thrown out of their homes illegally. and she said she is going the make the banks pay. we get the story from our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers. >> reporter: today, massachusetts attorney general martha coakley accused five big banks of making the foreclosure crisis worse. deceiving homeowners about loan modifications, unfair and deceptive foreclosure practices, and pervasive use of fraudulent documents, including robo-signing, to speed foreclosures.
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>> this suit seeks be accountability for the banks cutting corners and rushing to unnecessarily foreclose homeowners without following the rule of law. >> reporter: the lawsuit comes on the heels of complaint by county property records officials, including john o'brien of salem. he accuses the banks of turning his office into a crime scene. so why do you call it a crime scene? >> because this registry has been infected with fraudulent documents. >> reporter: his office identified 26,000 foreclosure filings signed by robo-signers. one involved carol, who has lived in this home all her life but lost her job and fell behind on her mortgage. >> hi, lisa myers. >> reporter: the day we visited she just received a notice. what did it say? >> it said that the house was going to be auctioned off. >> reporter: o'brien's office said carol's foreclosure is based on inaccurate, fabricated documents. her servicer disputes that. with 2 million homeowners now
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facing foreclosure, the obama administration and state attorneys general have been trying for a year to negotiate a settlement in which banks would pay billions in return for protection against lawsuits. coakley said she's tired of waiting. >> even if the banks think they are too big to fail, we believe they're not too big to have to follow the law. >> reporter: the ceo of one of the banks said he's disappointed by the lawsuit and still hopes a settlement can be reached. lisa myers, nbc news, washington. now we turn to the presidential campaign trail and the wild unsettled race going on within the gop. the newt gingrich that a lot of folks will remember from his speakership days back in the '90s was back on display making statements about controversial issues that left some of his critics slack jawed. our report from nbc's chuck todd. >> reporter: former speaker gingrich was quintessential newt in iowa, making broad assertions and diving into issues that haven't been front and center like child labor laws and the
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poorest work habits. >> really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. >> reporter: those remarks came as he tried to clarify his claim at harvard two weeks ago that child labor laws are truly stupid. >> you have kids who are required under law to go to school. they have no money. they have no habit of work. what if you paid them part-time in the afternoon to sit at the clerical office and greet people when they came in? what if you paid them to work as the assistant librarian? >> reporter: meanwhile, herman cain with the newspaper admitting that he never told his wife about a 13-year friendship with a woman who said it was an affair. he denied that but said he still hasn't talked to his wife about it in person.
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>> i haven't had an opportunity to sit down with her and walk through this with my wife and my family. i will do that when i get back home on friday. >> reporter: still if actions speak louder than appears it appears cain plans on setting in. he is set to debut one of the unusual campaigns of the year, a lie detector. >> the media won't tell you what one of the foremost lie detector experts in america said about herman cain. >> the allegations of sexually assaulted by him did not occur. >> reporter: the establishment front-runner mitt romney was off the early campaign state trail. he paid a visit to former president bush 41, former first lady barbara bush as you see in this photo today. trying to tphroupbt those establishment credentials, he didn't come away with an endorsement. the entire bush family has been staying on the sidelines so far. >> all right, chuck todd in our washington newsroom tonight. chuck, thanks. now, we go to a place we hardly ever see, myanmar. it's been one of the most isolated repressive regimes on earth. that may not be changing. and because of that, u.s.
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secretary of state hillary clinton is on an extraordinary visit there, meeting some extraordinary people, including a nobel prize recipient who recently captured the attention of the world. nbc's ian williams is there. >> reporter: until just a few weeks ago, this would have been inconceivable. the u.s. secretary of state in myanmar tonight meeting tzu chi. persecuted for years here for her pursuit of democracy but now planning to run for parliament. hillary clinton is the highest ranking u.s. visitor in more than 50 years. here to judge for herself reforms that are bringing unexpected change after decades of repressive military rule. censorship has been eased, political prisoners released, and restrictions on protests have been lifted. the changes and clinton's visit are generating enormous hope here. >> i hope that it is a good visit. >> reporter: the changes are all
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the more remarkable when you consider it's only been a year since tzu chi was released from house arrest where she spent 15 of the last 22 years. clinton met the leaders of what has been regarded as a pariah state. welcoming the changes but urging them to speed up the release of political prisoners and embrace further reform. >> i told the leadership that we will certainly consider the easing and elimination of sanctions as we go forward in this process together. >> reporter: they met in the isolated almost surreal new capital built from scratch in the middle of nowhere. its vast eight-lane highway is almost deserted. until recently it was off limits to westerners. there have been promises of reform here in the past, but myanmar's leaders may now have decided that bringing their isolated and impoverished country in from the cold really is in their best interest. ian williams, nbc news. and still ahead here tonight as "nightly news" continues, is
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your smartphone recording and reporting everything you do? there are new software suspicions tonight that all smartphone users should be aware of. and later she was one of the most glamorous women in the world, and she had some magnificent jewelry. now for a price it can be yours.
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we are back now with news that may surprise about 140 million people. that's roughly the number who use android and other smartphones and probably have no idea until now that there's software inside those phones that may be tracking not only where they are but also nearly everything they do. and they can't opt out of it. our justice correspondent pete williams has more on this revelation that's raising a lot of questions tonight. >> reporter: it's a burning question over something installed in 140 million smartphones, including androids and other popular models.
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a connecticut computer analyst claims software records nearly everything a user does with the phone. in a youtube video, the analyst, 25-year-old trevor eckhart said carrier iq appears to record every keystroke including text messages and phone numbers. >> so every button you press and dial or before you call gets sent off to the iq application here. >> reporter: the software maker said it gathers data only to make the phones work better by diagnosing why calls are dropped, for example. carrier iq said it's not recording keystrokes nor providing tracking tools nor does it have any such intention of developing such tools. but because the video appears to show keystrokes are being recorded, the company's claim is raising questions. senator al franken of minnesota has written carrier iq demanding answers and privacy advocates say if the software is sending that data it's illegal.
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>> if the text message data or e-mail data is being intercepted and transmitted it's a straightforward violation of the federal wiretap act and it's a serious violation. >> reporter: but a computer consultant says he has examined the carrier iq program and finds it's not spying on users. >> while it does do things such as listen for keystrokes it's not writing those down anywhere. it's doing it for internal purposes and not sending that information back to the carrier. >> i think what companies have to do is tell consumers what information they're collecting, tell them how they're collecting it, what they're doing with it, and give the consumers the option to turn it off. >> reporter: but this software, now in wide use, does not give consumers any option to turn it off. and the software maker insists there's no need to. pete williams, nbc news, washington. up next, the irish rock star who goes by a single name and why this was a big day in pursuit of a very personal mission for him going back many years.
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♪ when he hasn't been on the road with u2, he's been on the road with his various charitable efforts aimed at eradicating aids. today in washington bono, with the help of three u.s. presidents and a fleet of other dignitaries, marked the 30th anniversary of the discovery of aids on this world aids day with a mostly positive assessment. >> you could imagine we would be talking about the real possibility of an aids-free generation. but that's what we're talking about. that's why we're here. >> bono has been kind enough to join us from washington. bono, it occurs to me if we were talking about 30 million dead
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over 30 years in warfare, we'd be angry. we'd be fatigued and trying to end it. but what was the announcement, the good news that you delivered there in washington today? >> well, we are trying to end it. and the good news today on this 30th year anniversary of the discovery of this disease, hiv/aids, is that the end is in sight. you can't defeat it until the number of infections are the lower than the people you're treating. that's obvious. well, for the first time that's possible now through getting people these drugs early in the process. it stops them reinfecting other people. male circumcision, and getting women, pregnant women the drugs means their children aren't affected. >> while americans, really starting with president bush on forward, have made great achievements in their charity
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and giving overseas, domestically we have a problem here? >> america has been the turning point in the war, if you'd like. it would be shocking if vigilance was not applied to the domestic area and to certain communities which are still experiencing this disease. that's a very good point. >> bono, thanks. great. congratulations on the effort so far. and we'll cover the campaign as it goes forward. thank you for being with us from washington today. >> thank you. news has arrived from los angeles of the death of judy lewis. she was born after a brief love affair between loretta young and clark gable. she was born in secret, given up to a catholic orphanage when loretta young retrieved her at age 2 and adopted her. she didn't learn who her birth parents were until adulthood even though she had some of clark's features. she didn't know who her father was. she once met him as a school
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girl but he couldn't bring himself to tell her the truth. she was a veteran actress turned therapist. she was 76 years old. coca-cola learned a lesson. they like it the way they like it. that means taste and the container it comes in. coke is canceling the white holiday cans because they were too confusing and unpopular with customers who thought they might contain diet coke and they swore regular coke tasted different in the white cans. the polar bear cans are to benefit wildlife. you just can't mess around with coke. >> up next here tonight, something special for those looking for the perfect gift.
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more than 15,000 people have purchased tickets in the past few days just to see what's for sale at auction here in midtown manhattan. christie's auction house is about to sell elizabeth taylor's jewelry collection. it's dazzling. it's way over the top. and it's a long story told in rocks and bobbles and glimmer. it is the story of one of the world's biggest stars and the men who loved her. nbc's anne thompson has received an advanced look. >> reporter: she once said it's not the having, it's the getting. and no one got jewelry like elizabeth taylor. >> oh, what a divine necklace.
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>> reporter: her diamond, sapphires, emeralds and more diamonds are up for auction this month at christie's. the diamond and ruby necklace, earrings and bracelet her third husband mike todd presented poolside in the riviera. >> she immediately put it on and squealed with delight and started doing laps in the pool. >> reporter: the most stunning jewels come from the man taylor married twice, actor richard burton, including this 33 carat diamond ring. >> so this wasn't an engagement ring? >> no. this was a present from richard burton. she owned this over 30 years and wore it almost every day of her life. >> reporter: they were jet setters, leading lives often more dramatic and captivating than what they did on screen. and the jewelry reflected that. >> richard burton had some competition for this pearl. >> yes, he did. the spanish royal family wanted to purchase this back as it had been in their family so many years. but richard burton had to have it for elizabeth taylor.
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>> these were the spoils of a ping pong game. she said if i win you have to buy me a diamond. and he went out and bought her the smallest diamonds he could find. and so these were forever known as the ping pong rings. >> is it because elizabeth taylor wore it or it's just great jewelry? >> it's spectacular jewelry. >> reporter: this woman knew how to make an entrance, how to command attention. they hope taylor's jewels will bring in more than $30 million. great expectations for jewelry she kept in boxes with labels taylor made herself. from child star to activist. elizabeth taylor's dazzling legacy is now for sale. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. that's our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we want to leave you tonight with two better than average sized christmas trees. first of all, the national tree just across the way from the white house, which was lit up tonight. and there's the tree we keep out back, all lit up as of last
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night to spread the joy of the season. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow night. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow night. good night. -- captions by vitac -- thank you for joining us. >> occupying a jail cell. oakland police have made a key arrest. the opd says their investigation led them to the state of kentucky where they tracked
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